May 29, 2014

Watch_Dogs – Special Digital Abridged Edition

Enter the world of super-hacker Aiden Pearce, where the thrills are phoned in... in more ways than one.

Chicago. It's not raining. The NSA's just having its wettest ever dream.

Chicago. It’s not raining. The NSA’s just having its wettest ever dream.

The Merlaut Hotel. Full of dangerous people and dangerous secrets, and more importantly, money. So much money. This could be the big one Aiden. You’d better be ready.
I’m inside. Though really if I’m using their Wi-Fi, it would make much more sense to be outside, without the cameras everywhere. Didn’t think this through. Anyway, commence Operation: Needlessly Cryptic Intro. Hacking in. Cracking code. Reticulating splines…

Hey, Shadow Guy. Is that Aiden Pearce hacking our shit?
The man with the iconic cap, Cryptic Guy? No! He’d never have the- Well, bugger me backwards. This calls for some serious fridge justice. Call Maurice. Have him take out his wife at once to teach him a lesson I’m almost positive won’t backfire on us.
On it. Searching. Wait, he doesn’t have a wife. We could just kill him, I guess.
No, we shouldn’t be so vulgar. We merely want to scare him away from our business, but not by simply calling him and demanding he stay out of it. You know. On his phone.
Right. What kind of idiots would do that! Hey, look, he has a niece he seems quite fond of.
THEN I HOPE NOTHING BAD HAPPENS TO HER. Seriously though, we counter-hacked him before he got anything that mattered, so in retrospect I think we can agree targeting his family would be a really unworthy dick move on our part. Let’s just-
And now let's completely leave him and his family alone. Just good manners.

Whoops! Well, now he’s learned his lesson, let’s completely leave him and his family alone.

Eleven Months Later…

Hello, Maurice. Now, I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t that Aiden Pearce, with his iconic cap? Why, I haven’t seen him for 11 months, since I killed his niece in a ‘traffic’ accident. Has he gotten over it and moved on, you wonder? Well, that is indeed the question.
"Would you like me to repeat the answer?

“Would you like me to repeat the answer?

Please, man, I don’t know nothing. I never meant to fridge your niece. We was only trying to scare you, man. Even if I knew who it was phoned me up and told me to do it, I’d never tell you. You don’t know how powerful these guys are.
Wait, you don’t know who they are, but you know they’re powerful enough that you’d choose the anger of a fath- uh, uncle with a gun pointed at your dick over betraying them?
Well, you know, mysterious voice over the phone line, it’s not just going to be some asshole selling double glazing, is it? You gotta walk away from this, man.
Some things you just can’t walk away from. As you’ll discover when I break your legs with my retractable baton, and then get what I want by hacking your phone. As I could have done from the start, but whatever. Say, want some water to wash the blood down?
Urgh. Ow. Yes, that would be really goo-
YOU SHALL HAVE NOTHING! Now, be silent. I need to call my contact to find out how to get you from here to our appointment in my little torture cellar.
No! Please!
I’m kidding, I’m kidding. I don’t have a torture cellar.
It’s a basement, isn’t it? That’s where you’re going with this.
Well, look who put on his smart girl panties this morning. Don’t worry, there’s a chance my initial rage that might have seen me just rip your heart out 11 months ago hasn’t turned into the kind of cold fury that will now slowly turn your piss to ice. Anyway!

wda4

Sigh. Jordi, my psychopathic partner! Get over here! I’ve got what we need to black out the building, all we need to do is get this guy through a small army of cops. Now I think about it, doing this in a football stadium during a big game wasn’t my best plan.
Yeah, about that. How would you feel if I told you that I doubled down on that by calling the cops right down here as part of a really clever scheme to cover up our tracks by making more noise than an exploding fireworks factory?
I would feel horrified, then sickened, Jordi. Good job you wouldn’t do anything so mind-numbingly stupid and short-sighted. Right? Right, Jordi? I need to hear you say the words before I insert this baton into your anus and use it to stab your brain.
Police! Freeze!
In unrelated news, I’m going to run really fast in this direction now.
This is why the smart hackers just stay home and use 'computers'...

This is why the smart hackers just stay home and use ‘computers’…

Right. I need to distract that cop. If I can collect some electronic components, I can fashion a small but effective lure, then throw it into a key position, interface with it using my smartphone, and make it beep at just the right time to sneak past.
Or, I could just throw a ****ing rock.
"Sorry. I just never thought I'd be a 38 year old vigilante and still reliant on some guy called Badboy17."

“Sorry. I just never thought I’d be a 38 year old vigilante and still reliant on some guy called Badboy17.”

Hey, I thought you’d like to know that I escaped and remain awesome.
I’m thrilled. How the hell am I going to do the same? The cops all seem to know who I am for some reason. Honestly, ANYONE could have hacked into the power system and set off big riot-baiting explosions in that stadium.
"Oh, right, yeah..."

“Oh, right, yeah…”

It’s okay, I left you a car. Just get to your hideout and everything will be fine. Just try not to murder too many innocent people in driving accidents on your quest to track down the villains who killed your niece in a driving accident. Or not, I don’t care.
Sorry, I didn’t catch that. Was too busy setting off road traps to kill the cops who were chasing me. Anyway, I’ll meet you tomorrow to continue my campaign of revenge, unless I get distracted doing random shit around town for no apparent reason. Again.
"Damn, was hoping for some free sexts."

“Damn, was hoping for some free sexts.”

Gasp! A crime about to be in progress! Vigilante justice, away!
GET OUT I HAVE TO STEAL YOUR CAR TO PREVENT A CRIME!

GET OUT I HAVE TO STEAL YOUR CAR TO PREVENT A CRIME!

STOP COMPLAINING I AM VIOLATING YOUR RIGHT TO PRIVACY TO STOP A CRIME!

STOP COMPLAINING I AM VIOLATING YOUR RIGHT TO PRIVACY TO PREVENT A CRIME!

Wait, you get paid HOW MUCH to hold a sign? I’m in the wrong- No, I must away! TO PREVENT A CRIME!
AAARGH GET OUT OF MY WAY I AM TRYING TO PREVENT A CRIME!

AAARGH GET OUT OF MY WAY DID YOU NOT HEAR ME I AM TRYING TO PREVENT A CRIME!

Bitch, you in trouble now. You better be giving me what’s mine or I’m gonna cut me a path right through the friend zone, if you know what I’m saying.
Oh, goddamn it. One drink, and you think you’re entitled to murder me for sport. This is exactly why I stopped online dating. Men!

NOT ALL MEN!

GET BACK HERE AND FACE MY UNACCOUNTABLE BRAND OF STREET JUSTICE!

BOUNDER! CAD! GET BACK HERE AND FACE MY UNACCOUNTABLE BRAND OF STREET JUSTICE!

Aha! I won’t kill you, because that would be bad for PR! But prepare for a level of brutality even the LAPD would wince at! Eat my baton like it was freshly baked in a charming French boulangerie!
And a quick snap to remember him by...

And a quick snap to remember him by…

Fair maiden, I have returned. For though it was a long chase, your attacker has been vanquished. He learned that when you get in the way of a Pearce, you get… Pearced on.
Okay. Well, thanks, I guess. I mean, I’m not entirely sure that a city with an average police response time of like 20 seconds really needs a vigilante, so I did kinda have that covered. But hey, mustn’t be rude. Thanks for your help. At least he’s locked up safe and-
He’s what now?
You… you did call the police, right? To have him taken away and put somewhere he can’t hurt people, but mostly me? Using, y’know, your phone?
No, I just beat him up and left him lying in the street. Justice served!
You… you… YOU MORON! You just left him there, so now he’s probably already woken up extra angry, still SPECIFICALLY angry at me, and next time is probably going to be way more careful about how he comes to rape me and turn my skin into a woman suit? AAARGH!
Tsk. There’s just no helping some people.
This is an impressive paranoia wall for a conspiracy that involves basically three people.

This is an impressive paranoia wall for a conspiracy that involves basically three people.

Hey, Aiden. Just wondering if you’d be up for taking a break from your campaign against the city’s criminal underbelly to do some driving for one of its most dangerous organised crime families. I may have told them you’re a great wheelman for some reason.
What could possibly make you think I’d do something that?
A shitload of money?
I would also have accepted waffles.
One quick job for Stan Lich later...

One quick job for Evil Stan Lee later. Hmm. Stan Lich? Nah.

That was creepy and morally bankrupt. Anyhoo, I wonder what’s on the radio.
*snnk* Speaking as the official representative of the CTOS system, I want to assure any hackers listening that we only hire criminals, paedophiles and war criminals to guard our facilities, to remove any moral qualms about shooting our personnel.
Jolly sportsmanlike of them if you ask me. Oh, hey. New text from Badboy17.

text2

Off to the meet then. I hope she’s got better taste in music than me. If I have to listen to Weezer one more bloody time, I’m throwing this phone into the sea…

“Yes, I do look familiar. But don’t worry, I’m nowhere near as interesting.”

You must be Badboy17. I’m Aiden Pearce, but I go by the handle “Nosy_Parkour”.
Yes, I recognised your iconic cap. I’m Discount Lizbeth Salander; my friends call me The Girl With The Stick-On Tattoo. You can call me Clara. I know what you’re thinking. But you know as well as I that a woman in the hacking world would never be taken seriously, so-
No, I get it. I’m just not sure why you think you’re helping yourself with “Badboy17″…
The answer is ‘shut up’. Anyway, I’ve decided to be your spunky sidekick until I betray you or get kidnapped, so hurrah for you. Also, you asked me to look into someone making threatening crank calls to your sister. The good news is I found him. The bad news…
It’s someone’s convoluted way of getting in touch with me, rather than simply calling up and saying hello. You know. On my phone. I guess we’d better do a long serious of deadly adventures to hack the system and find out who he was.
Or we could just use the last-call return service. You’d be amazed how many hackers are too busy being clever to remember about that.
"Aiden! You ****ing spoilsport! I had a whole cool mission all planned out!"

“Aiden! You ****ing spoilsport! I had a whole cool mission all planned out!”

Damien. My old mentor. It’s your fault everything went wrong on that job last year. You’re the reason my niece was killed. You! I blame you! Not enough that killing you will end my guilt, but still! You!
Bah! Change the tune, Aiden! I’ve suffered too! Look, they came after me and they broke my leg! They left me with nothing except an ability to carry out my craft and the resources to continue living a comfortable life! Do you not think I too crave revenge?
Wait, hang on. You two… I know it was a hotel, but you essentially tried to knock over the equivalent of a mob bank and got caught in the act? And all they did was give you a bloody nose and leave you and your families in peace after making their point?
They killed my niece!
Right, and that’s tragic. But it was an accident, right? Maurice said they were only trying to scare you. And it’s not like they’ve been back to finish your sister and your nephew? Way I see it, they’re being way more forgiving than you two crooks could have dreamed of.
Excuse me, but do you have a penis? In that case, silence your woman mouth, girl. Aiden, I have found something important that will help in our long-delayed revenge. There was a second hacker, and-
Go away. Just because I swore to follow every lead doesn’t mean I’m going to take advice from an old friend who is also an expert in the data gathering field. I’m going to take down these people myself. With Clara, probably. We have a thing now.
Fine. But don’t come crying to me when it turns out I’m the final boss.
I won’t. Now come on, Clara. We’re going to stop those bastards who would use my love of my niece against me by tracking down a dangerous gangster through his love of his niece. She’ll lead me right to him and I will do nothing to protect her from his rage!
You’re not very good at this ‘hero’ thing, are you?
Did you say something? I was breaking into a car. Oooh, wedding ring in the glovebox. Mine! Better make it quick though. I’m due to meet my sister at the cemetery to continue pretending I’m not actually a complete monster. What a sucker she is.
Yes, who does keep leaving flowers? An intriguing mystery...

Yes, who does keep leaving flowers? An intriguing mystery…

Hey! Stop having sentimental moments! We’ve got un-blown up shit to blow up!
My heart is dying, but my ears are pricked and eager.
Yeah, well, I’ve got some seriously bad news. Apparently there was a witness to that shit we pulled back in the Stadium. If anyone asks him, he’ll be able to give them your face. We need a great plan here. We need the best plan in the history of, like, ever.
How about I get myself arrested? That way I can go undercover in the prison, find him, and threaten him into keeping his mouth shut before anyone is able to arrest and identify me. I expect I can get out again afterwards, because computers.
Wow. That is… that is literally the worst plan ever. It’s almost a genius level of bad plan, like there’s you, here, and then there’s stupid, and you went right through stupid and out the other side and said “Dudes, I totally have a plan.”
I’ll need my magic hacker phone that never loses signal or runs out of battery power at the worst possible second. Can you get it to me inside?
Oh, no problem. I know a guy. Owes me a favour. I figured maybe that favour could be giving him a note to pass on that said something like “Shut your face or else”, but this is way more fun. I can’t wait to be a part of it. From a distance.
Wait, that sounds like a much smarter-
Nope, nope, you’re the boss, Shawshank DLC Redemption it is. Don’t drop your phone!
Was that a joke about the showers? Because I think that’s in really poor taste, since it’s not like there’s any other situation where ‘anal rape’ is a punchline for the whole family.
I meant more be careful or you’ll break it, actually. Pretty sure you’re so far past the warranty at this point that you’ve lapped it round the universe.
"I immediately regret this."

“I immediately regret this. Better change my name on the system. ‘John Smith’. Yeah, that’ll do.”

Right, let’s see now. Okay, so, I can use my phone to just tweak my profile, unlock my cell and then all I have to do is avoid psychotic guards armed with automatic weapons. That I can’t hack. This was a fantastic idea. Now, where’s that witness.
Oh, hey, being beaten up by corrupt guards.

Oh, hey, being beaten up by corrupt guards. Vigilante justice time!

Man, thanks so much. You just saved my- Oh, shit.
Oh shit indeed. You know who I am? The answer is ‘no’. Because I am not wearing my iconic cap. But even if I was, the answer would still be no, because guess who can magically have your sentence upgraded from 60 days to 60 years.
Uh, scary, but… look, the guards are already trying to torture and murder me. I’ve got the life expectancy of a taco fart in here whatever. Shouldn’t you be breaking me out so nobody can make me squeal everything I know in, like, fifteen awful ways?
Haha, no. I’m not even going to do anything to take the heat off you in here. In fact, I was going to make you watch me walk out of here without you, but now I think I’m going to do it with a little dance. Oh yeah! Oh yeah! Do the hacktusi! Do the hacktusi!
You’re moonwalking out of the back door? You suck, Pearce! You suuuuuuuck!
Five minutes later, after doubling down by stealing a cop car to make the grand escape in...

Five minutes later, after doubling down by stealing a cop car to make the grand escape in…

Right. Well, that was the stupidest, most suicidal mission in open world gaming history, but at least my identity is safe. Nobody knows the name of the Vigilante, so there is no way that my family will be affected by-
Chicago Police have issued a warrant for the Vigilante, Aiden Pearce. That’s AIDEN. PEARCE. However, Chicago citizens are cheering Pearce on… for some reason. Really, it seems to this reporter like he’s just kind of a self-entitled douchebag. But-
THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENS AND AT THIS VERY POINT IN THE GAME. GODDAMN, WATCH DOGS. GODDAMN.

THIS ACTUALLY HAPPENS AND AT THIS VERY POINT IN THE GAME. GODDAMN, WATCH DOGS. GODDAMN.

Well, poo. That was a complete waste of time.
In other news, a recent escapee from our local prison, “John Smith” was just recaptured. Yes, really. He claims complete innocence, as if some sociopathic hacker had stolen his name but plans to leave him to his terrible fate, because-
Aiden! New local celebrity! I thought I’d just give you a ring to say I thought you were very rude last time we spoke, but maybe I got things off on the wrong foot by threatening your family. Please, let me make it up to you by taking you for a delicious steak dinner.
Hey, Daimo. That actually sounds pretty tempting. Sure, I’ll-
PSYCH! Kidnapped your sister! What am I like, eh? Anyway, if you want her back, I need you to investigate who screwed us last year. You know, like you were doing anyway, only… uh. Why am I doing this again, exactly? I think I dropped some script pages here.
Bastard! I told you, I’d never enter into a mutually beneficial deal with you, my old friend, against whom I had nothing whatsoever to be angry about with until this very moment!
It’s okay. I’m sure this isn’t going on from the death of your niece to establish a trend where all the women you know are used solely as pressure points to add artificial drama to a 20 hour game whose plot could be covered in about five.
Ha! I’ll show you filler! I’m going to spend several missions going after YOU, rather than just accepting that this is one of the very rare times when just following the kidnapper’s instructions makes sense and actually serves my purposes too! Take that!
GRRAARGH! YOU KIDNAPPED HER! EAT MY BATON!

GRRAARGH! YOU KIDNAPPED HER FOR DAMIEN! EAT MY BATON OF JUSTICE!

Yeah, about that. Did you really think I’d tell my goons anything important? I know you, Aiden. I know how you think. Specifically, like a psychopathic moron. So how about we get back to the bit where you do what I told you to, no sulking?
Fine. But you should know that I just went onto your Amazon account and changed a few orders. Your mother’s birthday present is now a crate of butt-plugs. Gift-wrapped.
"Okay. If I can just figure out who you are, I'll know who else was involved..."

Great. Ghost in my shell script…

Uh, Pearce, why are you looking at a really badly compressed video of some chick? Did you find my ex boyfriend’s Dailymotion account? Because I know what it looks like, but he swore the camera was OFF and-
Huh? No, I’ve been told there was a second hacker who screwed me over. If I can find ‘em, I’m going to pound their face into the ground until it cracks. You know any hackers who work in this city, specialise in CTOS, have been following me around…?
I will… totally keep my eyes open! For… for anyone fitting that description! The… the bastard! But for now, you said you had a job for me? Something about tracing an IP address.
Yep. Here you go.
HOLY CRAP THERE WEREN'T ANTI-HACKING TOOLS THIS GOOD IN NEUROMANCER!

HOLY CRAP THERE WEREN’T ANTI-HACKING TOOLS THIS GOOD IN NEUROMANCER!

They counter-traced us! Look! Aiden! Fixers everywhere! With assault rifles! And sniper rifles! And no sense of proportionate response!
Would this be a good time to mention how ridiculous the whole ‘fixers’ thing feels for a game set in 2012? I mean, 2050, that would be all fittingly cyberpunk, but here, it’s just really incongruous and weird-
AIDEN! ESCORT MISSION TIME! PROTECT ME! THEN LET US NEVER SPEAK OF YOU HAVING TO PROTECT ME AGAIN! SERIOUSLY! YOU KNOW WHAT KIND OF DAMAGE THAT WOULD DO TO MY HACKER CREDIBILITY?
Great. And just after the maid had finally put a new chocolate on my pillow too.

And just after the maid had finally put a new chocolate on my pillow too.

Crap. So much for my hideout. All my stuff was in there.
It’s okay. See, I know of another place where you can stay. There’s an urban legend about a secret bunker where they invented CTOS but it’s protected by basic logic puzzles so nobody ever bothered going to check it out apparently.
That sounds perfect. And I see no reason why it wouldn’t be completely untraceable and unhackable, despite the people who built CTOS also having built it and thus knowing exactly where it is. By the way, where is it?
On an island. In the middle of the lake.
Wait, my new hideout is… Demonreach?
Pffft. You wish. I should warn you though, before you can take it over, you’ll have to do several incredibly stupid missions. One of them is a poker mini-game! But don’t worry, it only lasts one hand for some reason.
Several incredibly stupid and pointless missions, and one poker mini-game later...

Several incredibly stupid and pointless missions, and one poker mini-game later…

Phew. Okay. So, we have the bunker, we’ve got it hooked up. Now you and me can go about tracking down every last person involved in my niece’s death so that I can punish them. Every. Last. One. God, would I hate to be any of them right now.
…yeah. Look, about that. Hypothetically… totally hypothetically… if one of them was a hacker chick who was really, really sorry and hadn’t meant it to happen, and was doing everything she could to make it up to you, would that… make a difference?
Nope, I’d rip her tits off and turn them into ear-muffs.
Well, anyway, I’ve tracked that IP address again. The signal came from a big tower block in gang territory, run by a dude called “Iraq”. So, I’m pretty sure that’s going to be a subtle, nuanced character for us to deal with over the next few missions.
"DIE MOTHERF***ER DIE DIE MOTHERF***ER DIE DIE!"

“DIE MOTHERF***ER DIE DIE MOTHERF***ER DIE DIE!”

Wait, you mean we’re literally going to have to invade Iraq? Hope it goes better than the last time some self-righteous Americans decided to try that…
Don’t look at me, I’m Canadian. Anyway, there’s no way you can just break in there without a quest long enough to make The Secret World look like the writing equivalent of a champion race-horse, so strap yourself in for the next few hours.
Can’t I just go there with a grenade launcher and clean this thing up in about five minutes?
Haha, no. There’s going to be all kinds of subterfuge and explosions and complicated schemes first, all of which will hide the fact that you’re now halfway through this game and basically nothing has happened or been revealed yet.
Yeah, I figured by now I’d be locked in a campaign to destroy CTOS or at least have some idea of who my oddly forgiving enemy is. Instead, it kinda seems like the only reasons it’s a bad idea are the actions of me, Aiden Pearce, and my iconic cap.
It’s as if our whole universe was being built by a million different people with nobody ever taking a moment to ask what they were really trying to say about surveillance, vigilantism and everything beyond ‘a very occasionally cool mechanic’.
I’m pretty sure it’s meant to be bad. But then, I am the guy who constantly calls foul at people snooping, despite both relying on it, and having put secret cameras in my own sister’s house to watch her and my psychologically damaged nephew.
I’m sure the story will get started soon and justify everything.
I dunno. So far it just seems to be an empty, thinly veiled excuse to have me pick fights with the worst people in the city just to cover up what a moral vacuum I am. I mean, I steal wedding rings, but can’t even give money to beggars. Why even bother?
Well, uh… maybe you’ll get to see some boobs.
"Aiden, it's a sex slave auction!" "It's okay, I'm just browsing."

“Aiden, it’s a sex slave auction!” “It’s okay, I’m just browsing.”

Ah, Mr… Crispin, isn’t it? That appears to be the name on your only slightly blood-stained invitation to my underground sex slave ring. Welcome, then, to that scene everyone’s been waiting for since the first trailer. Tell me, what do you see when you look down there?
Further proof that the games industry isn’t ready for this kind of scene? You know if I scan those girls with my phone, it says their occupation is “Abducted”. I mean, Christ almighty. This is just embarrassing for everyone involved.
I, as the head of this city’s most powerful organised crime family, see… things… differently. Hmm. Speaking of which, you know you remind me of someone I met not that long ago. Where… if I might ask… did you purchase… that most iconic hat?
Oh, um, uh… LOOK OVER THERE A THREE HEADED MONKEY!
Aaaaaah! Now it becomes clear – The Vigilante! Well, my boy, you had a… good run. But I fear it will take more than a… phone to get you out of this one.
Like this grenade launcher?
…that would probably do it, yes. Damn.
Now THAT's what I call pimping.

Now THAT’s what I call pimping.

Uh, Aiden. Are you going to bother doing anything about those girls about to be forced into a life of subjugation and misery? One of whom you kinda bought. Normally I’d assume so for any hero this side of Saints Row, but your laziness could send things both ways here.
I’ll call the police. You know. On my phone. They can handle it. Hey, unrelated, I wonder how that innocent guy who I accidentally had thrown into prison is doing. Would totally suck to be that loser for the next million years, the guards’ most hated man from Day 1.
You’re really confused about this whole ‘Vigilante’ thing, aren’t you? Anyway, fine, fine, I’ll assume it works out okay. Either way, you’ve managed to get some face-time with the villains, so I think we’re ready to liberate Iraq’s servers.
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.
Premature.
Tradition. I’ll just force one of his guys to do my bidding while I sit and watch on his camera.
Aw, man, now I regret saying mother****er all the time 'cause I got no way to express my anger right now...

Aw, man, now I regret saying mother****er all the time ’cause I got no way to express my anger right now…

Cool, got the data dump. Looks like… wow. Like his gang, we’re looking at a blackmail party. Oh, damn. He’s used basic security procedures and encrypted it. I thought we were actually going to accomplish something without the need for a million stages for once.
In this game? Please. Any idea who can hack it?
Well, encryption is inherently based around algorithms and processing power, so it’s not as if individual people are going to just sit there and do it by hand, and if it’s a good system not engineered by a moron, then there won’t be a backdoor for-
Just tell me who we can inconveniently go grab to get it done.
Dude named Kenney. Ray “T-Bone” Kenney. He’s off the grid, and nobody’s been able to find him for a year, since he did what you might call ‘an epic terrorist incident’. He’s not going to be easy to find. We may just have to- Okay, I’ve found him.
"What's that name again? Raymond Kenney? Never heard of him, but sounds like a handsome guy."

“What’s that name again? Raymond Kenney? Never heard of him, but sounds like a handsome guy.”

Okay, I’m going to guess that you won’t just join my cause here. You’re going to want a long series of quests that don’t actually advance the plot, but just contribute to that “20 hours” promise I’m now regretting Ubisoft making more with every passing second.
Friend, I don’t know who that fine fella might be. But just maybe, if you join me in a little mini game, we might become good enough friends to loosen my tongue. Let us now begin THE EPIC BATTLE OF PAST THEIR PRIME NERDS! A QTE drinking contest!
Dear god, it's Let The Intern Define Fun Day in the Watch Dogs office.

Dear god, it’s Let The Intern Define Fun Day in the Watch Dogs office.

*Hic*. There. Sorry about exposing you to your enemies, breaking your well maintained cover, and otherwise completely screwing over your life. Are we buddies now?
I reckon I might feel a spark. You might too. From ma TASER. And have a PUNCH! In the BALLS! But it’s okay! After this introduction, we’ll become besties and I’ll come to Chicago to do stuff you could just have brought me a laptop to do here, offline.
And now I think about it, I reckon I does have some bullshit questing for you stranger. How's about that?

And now I think about it, I reckon I does have some bullshit questing for you stranger. How’s about that?

Aiden! You’re back! And you found Kenney! Squeeeeeeeee! You’re like, a hacking hero of mine. You have no idea how moist I am right now.
Well, that’ll be what hand wipes are for. Gets sticky, them new fangled mice.
No, no, I mean… I want you to defrag me like I’m a dirty hard drive.
Not following.
Interface with my SCSI port all night long…
Reckon most folks are just using USB by this point.
Probe my penetration defences!
Can configure a mean firewall, if that’s what you’d like. Aiden, now I’ve wasted hours of your time on unnecessary bullshit that only served to put your little sister at extra mortal risk, I reckon it’s time we got on with this job of yours. What’s the gig?
Just a second. Before we do that – Aiden, did you learn anything important while you were out there? You were gone a whole act of the story, a fifth of the game maybe. Some relevant stuff must have happened while marking time like that.
Sure. I learned that the stealth system in this game is hilarious. Turns out enemies only care about whether they can SEE you, so you can empty out a whole base with a grenade launcher and have it counted as a sneaky entrance. Also, CTOS is evil.
Ah, of course. The profiling will lead to a dark future of-
Actually that side works pretty well! Super reliable! Probably worth keeping. But the guys who made it did apparently put the Mayor in power by using what they know to affect peoples’ thinking. Like brainwashing, minus the mad science bit. Also, Damien sold us out.
Surprised?
Nah. Anyway, come on Kenney. Time to crack this blackmail data and hopefully get him to give my sister back before she goes grey. Heh. See, on one side we’ve got this guy called Damien, on the other, this gang banger… You might say we’re between Iraq and a hard case.
Why?
Oh, sorry. That’s his name. I should probably have mentioned that first. Which reminds me, I need to go kill that guy with a grenade launcher. Give me five minutes, okay?
Basic rule of the streets. Never bring a gun to a BIGGER gun fight.

Basic rule of the streets. Never bring a gun to a BIGGER gun fight.

Well, that was about an act and a half overdue. How goes the hacking? Are we any closer to putting the ‘thriller’ into this hacking thriller yet?
Yep, we’re good. The only thing that can stop us now in our top-secret, hack proof bunker, is if someone from the outside works out how to hack into a top-secret hack proof bunker designed and chosen by us specifically to be top secret and hack-pr-
W4SSUP B1TCH3S?

W4SSUP B1TCH3S?

We’re being hacked by Mickey Mouse. Sure. Why not? Of course we are.
It’s Defalt! I’d know that one man war on auto-correct anywhere. But what’s he doing?
He’s stealing and also deleting all that data I worked so hard for! Goddamn it! If this game goes on much longer we’ll be bleeding into the sequel! Wait, what’s that. It looks like he’s sent us a data file.
Ah. Before you click on that, there’s something I really should-
Hey, Clara. Intro guy here. You figured out who those guys who broke into our system were yet? What’s that? Aiden Pearce and Damien Brenks. Super. We’ll go accidentally kill his niece and break his legs. PayPal still good for the bounty? Super. Toodles!
"Great, he's also gone onto my Facebook and apparently I like men now."

“Great, he’s also gone onto my Facebook and apparently I like men now.”

Well, at least my ears won’t be cold this winter.
Okay. I can explain this.
Explain. QUICKLY.
Well, uh, I mean, there’s really not that much to explain. I… I didn’t mean anything to happen. That’s definitely something I want on the record. And I’m really sorry, so if that could be added there too, I’d-
NAMES! Give me the villains’ NAMES!
With a whole act of this turkey left? Aiden, I don’t know their names. I’d tell you if I could, but obviously I can’t, because this whole game’s story hinges on dangling every plot point in front of you to hide that it’s 20 hours of ABSOLUTELY NOTHING HAPPENING!
Come on! It’s either going to be Evil Stan Lee or the guys behind CTOS, because there is nobody else in the game that it could be. I’m probably going to blow them both up. I just need to know which order for the maximum dramatic weighting!
Aiden, my boy! Long time, no needlessly antagonistic speak! Hope I’m not interrupting anything too important. Say, how’s that whole ‘getting my data and saving your sister’ thing going? You’d better not have been wasting time on silly mini-games!
Ugh. This is not a good day, Damien, not at all. I’ll be with you just as soon as I’ve put $5000 in the swear jar and gotten my money’s worth…
Then have you considered perhaps not wearing that silly hat?

Then have you considered perhaps not wearing that silly hat?

So, anyway, your sister’s doing well. She says not to even bother trying to rescue her any more. She’s resigned herself to her fate and married her guard. They’re getting married in Hawaii next week. Invite’s in the mail.
Really?
No. One more delay and I’m killing her just to stop her shouting for her little boy. The killer in Heavy Rain had a much better plan. Stick ‘em in a hole, leave ‘em. Much less messing about, free time limit thrown in during bad weather. And speaking of time limits…
I know what you’re up to. You’re planning to use Iraq’s blackmail material to make a deal with the guys who make CTOS. I overheard you in a boring cut-scene while longing for the credits to roll on this over-written excuse for a story.
Well, how enterprising. But it changes nothing.
Well, nothing except that you’ve promised them a big sack of data you don’t have, so now your balls are in a vice and I get to decide how hard it clamps. So, you know, there’s that. How’s your day apart from that?
You’re right. My fate entirely rests in your hands. That’s why I’ve decided to do the most suicidal thing I could possibly do by putting your picture on every billboard and having a five-star police assault brought down on you. What can I say, I’m capricious like that.
Oh, please. The people love me. Look at my respect score. I’m like Robin Hood and Batman mixed into one, only I casually steal from everyone and don’t even give to beggars and… look, what I’m saying is you just watch! The people all cheer for me!
Oh, Aiden, Aiden, Aiden. You forget. This is a scripted mission. Do you really think that design as banal as most of the non-hacking parts of this game have proven is going to factor in something so trivial at this stage? The answer: No.
I just realised you sound a bit like Heath Ledger’s Joker when you’re evil.
Why, thank you! Now run, Aiden! Because if you get caught, we’re both screwed! And enjoy! Because the twist of this act is that everyone is going to be able to pull hacking shit on you and make all the previously fun bits of the game really annoying!
How annoying are we talking?
I’m thinking things like the cops psychically tracking you, you not being able to lose them, them magically spawning even on your explicitly sealed off island… basically, every open world design crime, because the designers do not give a shit any more. Enjoy!
"If you have seen the Vigilante and he hasn't shut down the phone lines again, please call 911 immediately.

“If you have seen the Vigilante and he hasn’t shut down the phone lines again, please call 911 immediately.

Well, that was as much fun as having my fingernails ripped out by the KGB. But at least it can’t possibly get much worse-
H3Y D00D!!!!1!!!!!11!!!!
This is one of those serial killer training simulations, isn’t it? I just worked it out. It’s next-gen Harvester, only without the vision…
It’s okay, Aiden. I’m in Defalt’s basement, and- shit! Fixers! Defalt’s boys got me pinned down, Aiden! Quick! Help! There’s too many of them! There’s-
AAAARGH!

AAAARGH!

OH MY GOD THEY KILLED KENNEY! YOU BASTARDS!
?
Uh. You know. Like in… like in South Park? Been waiting all game to… to say that…
Sorry, don’t get the reference. Maybe you’re just really old?
Fine, fine, I’ll reload and save him. Sigh. Kids these days.
Hacking jargon provided courtesy of 1997, when the writers were using IRC a bit.

Hacking jargon provided courtesy of 1996, when the writers were using IRC to discuss Star Trek.

I UZ CITY VS. U NOW! STEAM ATTACKS NOT JUST 4 VALVE NE MORE! LOL!
What?
I AM INTERFAAAAAAAAAAACED!
Seriously, spit out your sandwich and try again.
PREPARE 4 STEAM AND EXPLOSIONS IN UR FACE!
I just realised what a complete arse I must be to fight against. Wow. If any of my enemies survive my rage, I’m going to send them gift baskets and apology notes. Also, I just realised how many innocent people I’ve crashed into them at intersections. Oh, well.
heh, bot

u mad bro trololololololololol

Yeah, on second thoughts, scratch that. Nobody mocks my iconic cap! Defalt! In words you might understand – I’m never gonna give you up, never gonna let you go, never gonna tell a lie – just hurt you.
Ulp. Byezors!
Damn, I was looking forward to pounding that face with my fists.
On the plus side, while you were chasing him, I stole back that data for Damien, so there’s no reason he won’t release your sister now. Unless he’s a backstabbing, duplicitous, friend-betraying super-douche, of course.
Did someone call?
Yes, you did, and finally I think we can use that call to find my sister and render this blackmail plot-swamp entirely pointless, especially since I think we all know the stinger at the end of this game is going to be CTOS going nation-wide for sequel potential.
There was that thing about the Mayor’s election that seems important. Not as important as it might have been if he’d played any role in this story, or if this wasn’t the most childish techno-thriler ever, but… in theory.
Bet you ten bucks it’s not as big a deal as it sounds. Anyway, I’d better go and get Sis. I’m sure she’ll be thrilled to know what I had to do to get her out, especially when you’d think I could have tracked her call days ago using mad hacker skills.
In fairness, I’m sure Damien bounced the call around and did other hacker stuff to make that impossible. As someone who’s been hiding off the grid for years, I know there’s lots of tricks available if you want to keep people away.
Yeah, no, that excuse stopped working around the time we found you in five minutes.
"So, I guess a quick game of I Spy is out of the question then..."

“So, I guess a quick post-rescue game of I Spy is out of the question then…”

But I don’t get it. Why was I kidnapped? And why, after being kidnapped, did you send me off on my own instead of driving me and my son straight out of danger like a sane person would? You even told us to go pack our bags. Our enemies can track us from SPACE!
It’s a mission design thing. You wouldn’t understand. All that matters is that you have to get out of the city, right now. Don’t tell me where you’re going. But if you could make it New Orleans or somewhere equally cool for the sequel, that’d be great.
Sequel? I can’t help think that there’s something going on here that I don’t understand. Aiden, what’s going on? Why have you plunged our family into chaos and horror like this?
Nicky, I know who killed Lena. Well, actually, I don’t. Not yet. But basically all the villains have been dealt with apart from Evil Stan Lee, so I’m guessing it’s probably him. Aren’t you glad?
Aaargh! I’m her mother and I stopped giving a shit who killed her! Aiden, you absolute arse! Why couldn’t you just let it go? Let it go! I can’t hold on any more. Let it go! That perfect girl is gone. I don’t care if it’s right or wrong! Let- Wait.
What?
You… I get that you’re a deranged lunatic, who I love but still, but… why would everyone else care about any of this, unless… Oh. Oh my god. Aiden… are you… no, no, no, you couldn’t be. Are you…
Am I what?
…the Vigilante?
One second. I’ve been saving this video clip for when you finally caught on.

Okay, fine, I deserved that. But I didn’t deserve this. I’m leaving, Aiden. I never want to see you again, unless I get re-damselled in the next game, in which case please show up before they make me poop in the corner of my cell again.
All I wanted was for you to be safe. Also, vengeance.
I know, sweetie, I know. But if you want to know what I want for Christmas next year, it’s still going to be your continued absence from our lives.
Oh. I was thinking of these novelty ear-muffs…
I don’t even want to know. Goodbye, Aiden. Good luck.
Oh, shit, I left my wallet in the car. Nicky! Nicky!

Oh, shit, I left my phone in the car. Nicky! Nicky!

If you’re done, I just found out that Evil Stan Lee was behind everything.
Yeah, this has been less a conspiracy thriller than a really explosive game of Guess Who. Does he have a moustache? No! Does he have your sister! Uh-uh! Is he the only one still breathing? You win! I’ll go get my grenade launcher.
Okay, I’m confused. You and Damien broke into Evil Stan Lee’s hotel, which was being hacked by Iraq, who works for him, to retrieve the blackmail information he was taking for himself, but had to protect to cover his involvement, and I was there too, and-
Who cares? It’s pretty clear the writers are more interested in making this convoluted than interesting. Especially when what few stakes were actually involved in this turgid mess just drove away to safety.
Wasn’t there some mysterious chick on a monitor at some point too? And your friend Jordi was holding some guy called Maurice who you planned to get some information from but then never got around to visiting for some reason?
All I know is that for the last few hours there haven’t been any real problems that couldn’t be resolved with a bit of luck and the aforementioned grenade launcher. Leave the story details to the Wikipedia editors, I guess. I’m going to deal with Quinn.
Who?
You know. Evil Stan Lee.
"I came on out. I came on within. I've not seen nothing like you, Lucky Quinn."

“I came on out. I came on within. I’ve not seen nothing like you, Lucky Quinn.”

Ah. The Vigilante. I’ve been… expecting you.
Clara. It was Clara, wasn’t it? She betrayed me again.
Let’s just say… I have my sources.

Whatever. Like 90% of this game, it doesn’t matter. Evil Stan Lee, you’re going to die tonight. But first, I just want to know… why? Why did you do it?
You broke into my home and stole from me. I thought this was quite obvious as far back as the intro. And then I left you alone, despite knowing your name, your sister sharing it, and your family being in the phonebook. I believe I was being quite generous.
Damn it, I didn’t accept this fundamental problem with the plot at the start of the game and I’m not going to accept it now! You’re responsible for my niece being killed! As is everyone in this story except Kenney, really, but mostly it’s YOU!
Oh, I see. Well, I’m sorry, I don’t remember. You see, for you, the day your niece was killed in a gangland hit was the most important day of your life. But for me, it was Tues-
NO! You are nowhere near charismatic enough to use that line!

NO! You are nowhere near charismatic enough to use that line!

Please yourself, please yourself. Now, don’t get me wrong, I will kill you. I will kill you… most horribly. Had you simply walked away, well, I would have forgotten you. So this has all been utterly unworthy of anybody’s time.
Tell that to the people who pre-ordered this game!
Ah, yes. Those poor fools, expecting a thriller… worthy of their ‘next-gen’ machines. Pitiful. But ah, Aiden. Before you die, would you like me to show you what all this has been in aid of? The vision you have been… chasing all along?
If you bend over and show me your asshole, I’m putting a bullet in it.
A man after my own… pacemaker. But no. Look… Behold!
"BEHOLD! The mayor murdering... some chick."

“BEHOLD! The mayor murdering… some chick.”

That’s it?
What? I’m a hardened bastard and I think it’s quite shocking!
I know, but… he’s barely been in this story. I’ve seen him maybe twice. And with a few exceptions out there, like the police arming gangs, honestly the city doesn’t seem in too bad shape even if he is one of your puppets. I should care why?
Well, she does work for CTOS, so conspiracy, but… ooh, I know! Let me offend you with some off-handed misogyny. Ahem. “Most women die without purpose. But she had enough sense to die in front of the camera.” There, gosh. Am I not the devil himself?
Look, in a regular thriller, I can see this being a big twist. But I was kinda expecting something to justify all the hacking and kidnapping and surveillance and stuff. This is weak. Is there something better coming in the epilogue?
Not… not really. But I fear… you would not see it either way. For my guards are on the way, and while I… am behind bulletproof glass for now, when I am not… oh, the fires I shall rain down upon you and all… all you love.
Uh-huh. You know when you said “A man after my own pacemaker” back then?
Hmmm?
See if you can pick out the exact word you shouldn’t have mentioned.
Grenades and pacemakers. Two things that really don't need to be Wi-Fi enabled.

Grenades and pacemakers. Two things that really don’t need to be Wi-Fi enabled.

Well, that’s that. Finally.
Aiden! Guess who still exists! And guess who just called me to say she was willing to trade herself for your sister, despite there being absolutely no way I would ever even consider that ridiculous offer. Needless to say, I’ve called in some hitmen. Enjoy!
Goddamn it, Clara. Yet again, a problem that could have been resolved if you’d just called me. You know. On my phone.
WARNING: ACTUALLY GOOD BIT OF WRITING AHEAD

WARNING: ACTUALLY GOOD BIT OF WRITING AHEAD

Clara! What… what are you doing at my niece’s grave? And those flowers. Those are… that was you all along? My god. There’s actually a scene in this game with genuine human sentiment and effective realisation. And it only took 20 hours.
I’m so sorry, Aiden. I’m not going to insult you by saying it was just a job or I didn’t know lives could be lost. I thought I could hide behind my monitor, but… I’m not even asking you to forgive me. I can disappear. Or we can talk. Either… you choose.
It’s… it’s okay, Clara. I… forgive you. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned during this game, it’s that no hack I know can compare to the one who’s been writing this story. Come on. We can still get out of here before the cliche-storm hits and-
SURPRISE! SHITTY GRAVEYARD SHOOTOUT!

SURPRISE! SHITTY GRAVEYARD SHOOTOUT!

Crap.
I know... it's hard to tell with all the tattoos... but I just got shot. Ow.

I know… it’s hard to tell with all the tattoos… but I just got fatally shot. Ow.

DAMIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN! Right. This shit? This shit right here? This great big pile of shit? I HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF THIS SHIT! You want this blackmail information to yourself? I’m going to my den. My SNOW-den! If you get what I mean!
I really don’t.
I mean that I’m uploading everything to the web! All the secrets! All the leverage! Everything! Starting with… uh, the assets manifesto from this game, apparently, including the covert video I took of my sister in her own house!
No more secrets, huh? No more privacy? So does that mean you’re going to stop wearing a mask everywhere you go, quit living in an off-grid high-security bunker, and switch off the hack that blocks your face and personal information from security cameras?
Haha, no.
Oh no! Stop him before he uploads Assassin's Creed: Black Flag!

Gasp! Stop him before he uploads Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag!

And in other news, an absolute crap-ton of data was just dropped on the open market, implicating Mayor Rushmore in the death of a former CTOS employee, which is a bit meh since their security team is, as reported, 70% paedophiles and war criminals, but still-
You have no idea how angry I am right now.
This is my ‘not giving a damn’ face. Do you like it?
And this is my ‘has complete control of CTOS’ face. I guarantee you’ll HATE it. If I can’t have my blackmail data to wreak my revenge, I’ll do it by RIPPING THIS CITY APART! Watch me CRIPPLE IT! Like Evil Stan Lee CRIPPLED ME! And then… THE WORLD!
You’re insane.
You did say I sounded a bit like The Joker. So, any last words?
I don't know. "No," mostly.

I don’t know. “No,” seems to cover it pretty well.

Well, that’s that. Now to just shut down CTOS and kill Damien…
Wait. We are the hacking group DEDSEC. Give us 30 seconds inside the system. We will install our own code. We will be your… Watch Dogs.
Is this a tenuous attempt to squeeze in a title that was conceived before this mess of a storyline was actually written, in a depressingly rare moment of self-aware realisation that it doesn’t apply to anything in the game as it stands?
Pretty much, yeah.
Thought so. Piss off.
Okay.
My god... it's over... it's finally over!

My god… it’s over… it’s finally over!

This game has been longer and more painful than a stuttering snail reading the Silmarillion, but Damien, we are done. You are not walking away from this. Well, hobbling. Sorry, didn’t mean to hit a nerve there.
You self-righteous prick. You set out to avenge a little girl, you blew up an entire city. And you dare to think of ME as the villain?
Oh, sweetie. I’m a class-3 douchepocalypse who routinely murders innocent people to get cars off my back, gives not a thought to collateral damage, and is literally so awful, the villains look like rational and responsible people. But you know what counts?
Sigh. You’re the protagonist, and therefore technically the hero.
Right. All that matters is my heart was in the right place.
Surprise last minute betrayal!
Not a surprise. Baton to the face.
Do I… also get the non-lethal baton to the face?
Nope, bullet to the balls. BECAUSE I’M NOT BATMAN.
The plot twist is that this wasn't in fact a stealth Assassin's Creed sequel.

The plot twist is that this wasn’t in fact a stealth Assassin’s Creed sequel.

So, that’s that. All my enemies, defeated. All their secrets… revealed. Literally thousands of orphans as a result of my quest to avenge my niece. But you can’t make an omelette without completely sacrificing every principle you once held. At least-
Huh. Now I think about it, what was the moral of this story? Except that if you can afford to make a huge open world city, it’s apparently acceptable for your story writing to be so cack-handed that you’ll never get rid of the poo smell from your fingernails.
Mebbe… that information wants to be free?
Yeah, let’s go with that. Say, I wonder how much Ubisoft wants Watch Dogs to be.

wda54

And I didn’t even see a dog.
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  1. Fomorian says:

    Wow. This sounds like Person of Interest done by Michael Bay.

    Is at least the gameplay any good?

  2. Richard says:

    Most of it is very stock open world stuff, with some neat hacking bits that don’t get the focus they need in Ubisoft’s desire to do everything, but mostly what it knows from Assassin’s Creed. There are some really fun dabbles into them with things like scenes where you escort someone through a building via CCTV or almost play The Sentinel to get around it yourself, jumping from camera to camera, but the bulk is given over to the usual gunplay and driving and Ubi’s inexperience at it lends itself to some problems there, especially in terms of checkpoint placing, and a driving model that sees cars having two real speeds – go and stop. I’d have liked it a lot more if Pearce was forced to rely on his phone and going in clean rather than being ludicrously dangerous.

    Some fun mini games and things round the side, but mostly I was focusing on the story to be done with it and found it a pretty tedious game compared to others, like the all-out Saints Row 4 or more successfully real-world focused Sleeping Dogs. It’s… it’s okay. But that’s all. Nothing worth writing home about, and in general a waste of some great ideas that either go underused or get buried.

  3. Alex says:

    This line is just perfect, Richard, and seems to say it all:

    “Just try not to murder too many innocent people in driving accidents on your quest to track down the villains who killed your niece in a driving accident.”

  4. Richard says:

    Hehe. Well, technically the player could drive REALLY REALLY SAFELY. But when a chase kicks off…

  5. zaldar says:

    damn THAT was funny. Stolen from like that sight with like a ton of these that I don’t remember…so I guess you hacked the idea and they needed….(wait for it)…….WATCH DOGS *puts on dark sunglasses*

    Ok ok..yes I know baton to the face…really though funny stuff. What was the song that played during the facepalm thing that was really well done and has anyone ever asked “Picard” how he feels about one of the longest lasting things for TNG being the face palm (though God how I love that show and how I hate the reboot..sigh).

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